Minority senators 'boycott' Senate session

By LYNDA JUMILLA, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2008 04:53 PM | Updated as of Sep 18 2008 01:02 AM

Tuesday's walkout by minority senators over the C-5 road extension project controversy ripened into an apparent boycott of Wednesday's led by the same group.

There was no official announcement by the minority of the boycott but all seven of them (the eighth member is detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV) were coincidentally out on "official business."

Senate secretariat officials said around 1:30 p.m., the respective chiefs of staff of the seven minority senators sent letters informing the body that their bosses would be out on official business.

ABS-CBN News collated the "excuses" given by the senators: Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel is in Jakarta, sent by the International Parliamentary Union to investigate the cases of a detained lawmaker; Panfilo Lacson, in an interview earlier in the day on the ABS-CBN News Channel, said he would be out on official business; Jamby Madrigal is attending the Judicial Excellence Awards at the Supreme Court; Mar Roxas is out due to a "previous appointment"; Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III has a "schedule outside" the Senate; Loren Legarda is in Zamboanga; and Rodolfo Biazon is meeting with the Laguna Lake Development Authority and Laguna fishermen, pursuant to a resolution he has filed.

Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan said they were ready to continue with the interpellation of Monday's privilege speech by Lacson.

Noting the absence of the entire minority, Sen. Miriam Santiago said there appeared to be a "deliberate snub" by the minority senators of Wednesday's session.

She then read the Senate rules on quorum, in particular Section 44 which allowed the majority to "compel the attendance" of absent senators in the event of a lack of quorum.

"It is just my way of emphasizing that all of those absent can be arrested," Santiago said.

She then continued, jokingly, "I notice Senator [Gregorio] Honasan nodding his head. I therefore propose he head the arresting team, in the event."